‘This is Democracy. You Should Come Try It.’
By Doug Porter
Pressure from citizens groups continues to mount nationwide, as elected representatives grapple with political blowback over health care, immigration, environmental, and other issues raised by Republicans seeking to dismantle America’s social contract.
Nearly 2000 people came to what was billed as an ‘Emergency Town Hall’ in Vista on Tuesday night, even though the guest of honor, Congressman Issa, made it clear he had no intention of showing up.
The Jim Porter Recreation Center quickly filled up to its legal capacity of 350 people; the remaining attendees rallied outside. Midway through the proceedings, which included speakers from faith-based and healthcare organizations, the room was emptied to allow a new group of constituents in to hear speeches.
From the Union-Tribune:
The group that organized Tuesday’s event has held weekly protests at Issa’s office and raised $6,000 for a full-page newspaper ad urging him to attend the town hall, which focused on the Affordable Care Act. Labor unions and healthcare advocacy groups funded the event.
Fallbrook resident Holly Nelson, a licensed clinical social worker, said she was disappointed that Issa did not show — but still, she left heartened after hearing from other like-minded people.
“As a constituent, I want my voice heard,” Nelson said. “But (it was good) to see that I wasn’t alone in my feelings, that other people want to fight for this important issue.”
Earlier in the day, the representative from the 49th Congressional District tried to pull a fast one, calling up a group of has-been Tea Partiers–complete with professional PA system– to give him cover to announce his unaffordable ‘Accessible Health Care’ plan.
Issa’s early arriving sycophants were quickly outnumbered by constituents demanding answers to questions about the Congressman’s positions on the administration’s behavior and policy proposals.
From the Escondido Grapevine:
This was the fourth week in a row an Indivisible North County group showed up at the office to protest Issa’s position on affordable health care, lack of access to constituents and several other issues.
They probably didn’t expect the man himself to emerge and engage, but he did, along with a crowd of Issa supporters apparently alerted by his office as a counterbalance.
It’s not the first time Issa has employed this tactic. Previously, he held several phone-in conferences with constituents during which his staff front-loaded Issa supporters with cheeseball questions.
“Coincidence that his supporters are there?” Deena Wagemann posted on Facebook. “Maybe. Maybe not.”
Sheriff Deputies took several reports amid claims that Issa-Trump supporters shoved and threatened protesters.
An Unaffordable Care Act
Issa released a draft of his proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act on Tuesday, promising access to the health benefit plan that federal employees use. To nobody’s surprise, the plan doesn’t include a realistic way for those in lower economic brackets to pay for it.
“The plan I’m proposing frees us from Obamacare’s burdens, while focusing on what works, to create a simpler, patient-centered, market-based health care alternative that puts patients back in the driver’s seat of their health care,” he said in a press release.
Issa has supported federal block grants that could leave states or counties responsible for much of the subsidies to make that insurance coverage affordable.
More than 370,000 San Diego county residents are enrolled in health insurance plans under Covered California or the expanded Medi-Cal coverage provided under Obamacare.
Issa and his fellow Republicans are ignoring decades worth of evidence pointing out that federal block grants for other programs result in declining eligibility, reduced benefits, and higher administrative costs.
Another phony component of Issa’s plan promises to allow income tax deductions.
From the Union-Tribune:
While granting access to the same plans that federal employees enjoy would surely be a positive development, doing so without subsidies would leave many current Obamacare enrollees unable to afford their premiums, said Timothy Jost, a health policy expert and an emeritus professor at the Washington and Lee University School of Law.
The text of Issa’s draft bill does specifically allow enrollees to deduct the total cost of their yearly health insurance premiums against their personal income taxes. But Richard Kronick, a health policy professor at UC San Diego who has worked with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said deductions are most useful to people who make enough money to land in high tax brackets. Most Americans who currently get Obamacare subsidies are many rungs further down on the economic ladder, he noted.
“Deductions would not make coverage affordable to most of the people who are currently buying coverage with subsidies …,” Kronick said.
A Wave of Indivisible Activism
As the town hall event ended, organizers announced a peaceful candlelight vigil outside Issa’s Vista home Thursday night.
On Tuesday there were also events at Congressman Duncan Hunter’s offices in Temecula and El Cajon.
From the Escondido Grapevine:
Some 250 protesters descended on the El Cajon office of Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-50th District) Tuesday, the largest group yet in four weekly protests outside his San Diego County office.
Protesters marched, chanted and held signs from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. They also met with Mike Harrison, Hunter’s deputy chief of staff, according to Lynda Vernia of Indivisible North San Diego County.
Protesters entered their discussions on preservation of the Affordable Care Act, Hunter’s support of Trump’s Muslim ban and Hunter’s refusal to hold an in-person town hall meeting among other issues.
Hunter’s El Cajon office (1611 Magnolia Ave) will be the location for a late afternoon Thursday rally. Following a rally with guest speakers, organizers are planning to head over to the Bradley Overpass on Route 67 to wave signs asking ‘Where’s Duncan Hunter?’
The town hall (and related) protests from around the country are having the desired effect. Over 200 GOP house members are simply avoiding their constituents in districts around the country. Viginia Congressman Dave Brat’s attempt at levity, asking “Anybody got a good joke?,” drew a solid “You!” response from the 200 people on hand.
Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton changed the venue for a promised function five times, hoping to avoid ‘problems.’ Montana Senator Steve Daines cancelled a scheduled address before the state legislature rather than face protesters surrounding the entrance.
From the Union-Tribune:
The wave of activism washing across San Diego County and elsewhere largely centers on the Trump campaign pledge to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the 2010 legislation known as Obamacare.
The resistance movement also focuses on other initiatives pushed by the new president since he was sworn in last month, including immigration policy, climate change regulations and controversial Cabinet nominations.
Many of their strategies come from Indivisible, a playbook for political activism developed by former congressional staffers who watched the tea party movement take root soon after Barack Obama moved into the White House.
The so-called angry crowds in home districts of some Republicans are actually, in numerous cases, planned out by liberal activists. Sad!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 21, 2017
The town hall meetings haven’t been exclusively aimed at Republicans. Democratic Congressman Scott Peters met with an overflow crowd on Monday night.
From the OB Rag:
He’s the Democratic Congressman for District 52 – the Congressional District that includes Ocean Beach and Point Loma – and his name is Scott Peters. Last night at the Islamic Center of San Diego, there were so many people crowded into the large room, that he called it the largest town hall meeting he’d ever seen – all because of Trump, he said.
Estimates of the crowd range from over 200 to about 150 – and included several OBceans at least – but whatever the number, the town hall meeting at Eckstrom Avenue in San Diego was lively as Peters fielded questions from the audience on immigration, Trump’s border wall, the EPA, and how to deal with the Trump administration.
Indivisible is just one of thousands of grassroots groups that have sprung up nationwide in recent weeks.And, despite claims the push back is somehow part of a Democratic plot, the most dramatic confrontations have been in “safe” GOP districts.
From The Hill:
Over the Presidents Day weekend, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) were repeatedly raked over the coals during a joint constituent town hall in Mount Pleasant that ran for three-and-a-half hours.
And Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who as a Finance Committee member will be instrumental in the GOP’s healthcare efforts, squared off Tuesday with about 100 Iowans who warned him not to touch -ObamaCare and urged him to challenge Trump.
In some cases, Democratic activists went where they were not welcome. More than 1,000 protesters jeered and chanted at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday as he made his way to a speech in Lawrenceburg, Ky., The Associated Press reported.
Another claim being made by besieged Republicans is that out of district and out of state protesters are being bussed in.
Everyone holding up their CO driver’s license to prove that it’s all Coloradans wanting to talk with @SenCoryGardner pic.twitter.com/hIySskpeZA
— IndivisibleNOCO (@IndivisibleNOCO) February 22, 2017
From Playbook: a GOP chief of staff told me his office has been “bombarded” by calls — they went from 2 to 10 the ppl who answer phones. pic.twitter.com/AdZcTW4ntR
— Daniel Lippman (@dlippman) February 22, 2017
Fox News runs segment at 6:15 about protestors organizing against Trump
Trump tweets at 6:23 pic.twitter.com/IzDcPaVpRM
— Andrew Lawrence (@ndrew_lawrence) February 22, 2017
Look for Trump to start tweeting about the “Obama Army” story currently making the rounds on conspiracy websites.
In recent days, the 30,000-person army commanded by Obama from his fortified DC bunker has really gone wild. https://t.co/M5AnLbnk1t
— JJ MacNab (@jjmacnab) February 21, 2017
Looking for some action? Check out the Weekly Progressive Calendar, published every Friday in this space, featuring Demonstrations, Rallies, Teach-ins, Meet Ups and other opportunities to get your activism on.
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bob dorn says
Wonderful news. A lively and healthy resistance t is taking control of events back from hate-filled professionals.
Brian Schaller says
Issa was hoping the tea-party crowd would rally behind. A few Issa minions. Didn’t happen, no one believes his attempt to appease the crowd by leaving his office diminished his fear of a no show at the later giant, healthcare rally. Subterfuge for his fear and terrible record as a criminal in private life and autocrat in public life.